I believe that everyone wants to be successful in life/work/ministry/family, regardless of how they may define success. No one has an expressed purpose, or innate desire to fail, although some do. 

I don’t think that anyone wakes up one morning to the realization that their supreme desire in life is to be a failure. I also believe that God’s definition of success is decidedly different than the world’s definition.

“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”

~I John 2:15,16 (The Message)

So what does the world want?


These are a few “wants” that come to mind. I’m sure you can think of others.

Today I want to address three critical factors that are essential to success in biblical leadership–factors that, if violated constantly and consistently, will more than likely lead to leadership failure.

I am not saying that these are the only ones that can lead to failure if violated, but these are certainly at the top of my list based on personal experience and the experiences of those I have led, coached or worked with/for through the years.


In my leadership seminars, I say that the most important item on your job description may not be on your  job description, but should be. I believe with all my heart that the primary responsibility of every Christian leader is to hear regularly from God. 

“Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” 

~I Samuel 3:10 (NIV)  Emphasis mine

That should be the heart cry of every sincere follower of Jesus, and especially so for his leaders. Through the time-proven practices of spiritual disciplines, we place ourselves in a postion to hear from the Lord: hear words of encouragement, hope, rebuke, challenge and guidance for life and leadership.

When the pressure is on and the schedule is tight, oftentimes quality time with God is one of the first things that gets neglected or ignored.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Get lots of good quality time sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing from the triune God. Remember Mary chose to sit at Jesus feet while sister Martha hustled and bustled about and was rebuked by Jesus.


The second critial factor that gets neglected is quality time with family. If married, wife and children (as He blesses you with them). If not married, time with your father, mother, brothers and sisters.

“Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, andfight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

~Nehemiah 4:14 (ESV) 

With his help, we need to fight for our homes and make our homes and families a priority both in time and affection.  Andy Stanley’s book, “Choosing to Cheat”is especially insightful on this topic. Ministry/work will suck everything out of you if you are not careful, and your family will get the leftovers–if there is anything left.

At 82years of age, I’m still working at making my wife Susan and my four adult children & seven grandchildren a high priority.

It’s a big challenge for me and I’m not always successful at it, but I am earnestly seeking his help as I set up each week to include all of them in one way or another: to love them, cherish them, affirm them and invest in them with time and attention.


Lastly, we need quality time in thinking and praying about key people we want to bring into our team or our staff (both paid and volunteer).

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have this conversation with some leader I coach–making those important decisions about who to bring onboard.

I love Jim Collins’ insight about getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats.  

“Then they all prayed for the right man to be chosen. O, Lord, they said, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen.” ~Acts 1:24 (NLT)

As leaders we need to pray for the right people to be chosen and  spend sufficinet time thinking, assessing and selecting  these people, as he leads us.

Nothing can hurt the vision, the ministry and the direction of what God is leading you to do more than having the wrong people with you, or having them in the wrong seats on the bus.

The subject of selecting the right people is one of the topics that most often comes up in my coaching of leaders. Horror stories abound regarding this topic. Jesus spent an entire night in prayer before selecting his twelve.  That should speak volumes to us!

So how are you doing with these three Critial Factors for Success? Anything the Lord would have you stop doing, start doing or do differently?